If you’re an addict or alcoholic, and identify as a non-believer, agnostic, atheist, etc., you’re fooling yourself. Addiction has a lot in common with religion: ritualistic behavior, ecstatic experiences, strict rules about conduct, and yes, even martyrdom. You, too, are a faithful follower of the Church of the Exalted Chemical. Here are the Ten Commandments:
I: I am Thy Drug, Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me
No holy war, crusade, or jihad claims a greater toll on human life than alcohol and drugs. Has a more jealous “god” ever existed? Not content with the devotion of evenings and weekends, alcohol and drugs eventually demand morning prayers, too– often conducted while kneeling over the toilet bowl.
II: Thou Shalt Honor Thy Drug Before Thy Mother and Father
Children steal from their parents to get drugs, run away to live on the streets to be “free” to pursue their habits, con and lie and set family members against one another to serve their addiction. Devotion to the drug supersedes all family loyalties.
III: Thou Shalt Harm Any Who Threaten Thy Drug, Even Unto Death
In an era of drive-by shootings, lethal violence by and for drug gangs, and escalating “Drug War” related crime, it’s easy to see the harm related to drugs. Maybe people don’t kill for alcohol much now, but just recall the era of Prohibition. Addiction leaves a bloody trail among addicts and everyone around them.
IV: Thou Shalt Sacrifice Thy Children Unto Me
Have you checked the figures on how many children are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder because their mothers drank during pregnancy? How many babies have to be detoxed in the nursery from heroin or cocaine or prescription opiates?
V: Thou Shalt Give Thy Time to Worship of Me
Many alcoholics limit their drinking during the week, only to devote their weekends to the binge. How many times have addicts skipped family events, holidays, vacations, etc., in order to heed the call of their drug? When you’re a stone addict, you have no “free” time. You’re either drinking/using, recovering from drinking/using, or finding the next drink/hit.
VI: Thou Shalt Not Question Me
Intelligence flies out the window, objectivity is long gone. The addict gives up on thinking for themselves, because it’s too dangerous. The voice of the drug or the booze carries total authority. Denial, rationalizing, and other defense mechanisms take the place of critical thinking.
VII: Thou Shalt Trust Only Thy Drug
An alcoholic once told me, “My family wants to get me into detox to kill me, so they can get their hands on my money.” Addicts become familiar with paranoia, suspicious of everyone– even other users, because they want your stash.
VIII: Thou Shalt Seek Forgiveness Only Through Me
Addicts are no strangers to shame, regret, and remorse. The knowledge of all he or she has lost through the addiction is there, even through the denial. So who do they turn to– friends, confidants, mentors? No, most seek relief from still more booze or drugs, as if that will lead to something other than more pain.
IX: Thou Shalt Not Forget Me
Even years after the last drink or hit or pill, the drug continues calling the faithful to worship. Cravings and vivid dreams of using live on in the recesses of the brain, calling like the mythological Sirens that lured sailors to sail to their deaths.
X: Thou Shalt Tithe of Thy Wealth To Me
In most churches a minority of the congregation contributes the bulk of donations. About 10 percent of drinkers account for more than 50 percent of all alcohol consumed. Who’s more “devout”?
Look in any community directory or Yellow Pages. Count the number of churches. Now count the number of bars, liquor stores, restaurants that serve alcohol. Call your neighborhood church and ask how much they brought in from the collection plate last year. Compare that with the receipts of any successful drinking establishment.
Which god is really more honored in day to day practice?
Coming Soon: Coordinates on the Recovery Map
Recovery Without God -More from this series:
- Recovery Without God
- Taking Charge by Having Faith
- Atheology for Recovery
- The Church of the Exalted Chemical
- Coordinates on the Recovery Map
- Finding a Skeptical Starting Point
- Re-Engineering Recovery Tools
- Nonbelievers Moral Inventory
- Taking the Fifth
- The Readiness is All
- Humility Ain't for Wimps
- The Damage Assessment
- Do-It-Yourself Repairs
- Good Practice Over Bad Habit
- Balancing Act